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I Believe PTSD Is Curable - An Anonymous Source

Discussion in 'General' started by anthony, Jun 15, 2006.

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  1. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    A person I now know through this very forum, has been chatting with me about certain factors of their life struggle with, well... life and PTSD caused from that life. They have very gratiously sent me, and given me permission to post, their life story and struggle with PTSD, though all personal references and names have been removed to protect the anonymity of this person. I personally believe you need to read this story, because it certainly touched me, and is what made me ask this person to tell their story publicly, though they wish to remain anonymous, and that is the way it will be.

    I have always said, remain open about PTSD, remain open to different methods and techniques to help you, because what works for one, may not work for another, but may just work for you! Interesting ha? So, here is their story (only names edited):


    By Anonymous American

    Saturday morning, I found my wife in the garage, and explained that I didn’t have PTSD any longer, and I felt great. I could see the fear, anxiety and skepticism in her face. Her response was understandable; our family had already been through very difficult times. During those times, some of my words and actions would have been bizarre and unpredictable. I had been seriously mentally ill for almost eight years. On five different occasions that involved hospitalization, I had been diagnosed with multiple mental and emotional disorders, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had been through eight months of drug rehab treatment, two psychiatric hospitals, and one detox center. Our family had no stability, and the future looked desperate for our family. But I also knew that in time, she would be able to see for herself, by my life, and by my actions, that this was true.

    Curable – "being such that curing or healing is possible". From the Online Medical Dictionary. Is it appropriate to use the word "curable", in the case of PTSD? Read this story, and then decide.

    This is a condensed story, but a true story. I grew up with a mentally-ill father, who had issues. Extreme rage was one of them. Violence was another. There was physical and emotional abuse. This was not some well-kept secret. It was common knowledge. I am sure that nobody knew what to do. He was an intelligent and gifted man, had been something of a childhood prodigy. He was also large, and powerful. During childhood, cruelty was commonplace. This went back as far as I could remember. I later learned that it had started during my infancy. I learned of this from older family members, when I was 21.

    My mother was, and is, a good woman, not perfect, but she raised us in a church environment, and she did an extraordinary job of trying to placate him and keep us kids alive. Divorce went against the Bible. She would have no part of that. More than once she kept us out of harm, and physically intervened, at enormous risk to herself. Her courage and judgment might well have kept us alive.

    The last day of school my junior year of high school; she picked me up after school. She already had my 2 brothers and my sister in the car. She told me we had to leave town, because she thought Dad might try to kill us all. I can not say that it would have really happened, but, at the time, it did not seem to be unreasonable. There had been so much fear and tension. For the next several months we lived as refugees, with relatives.

    My senior year of high school was spent at a new school. I was not a well adjusted person. I never had been. I kind of lost my way during my senior year in high school. I isolated, and skipped school more days than not, and started drinking. I graduated in 1977, by the skin of my teeth, and spent the next 7 years working in manual labor jobs, and attending college. In 1983, I met a beautiful young lady at 24, we fell in love, and I then decided it was time to stop drinking, and settle down. I decided to try to pursue a career as a pharmacist. College was extremely difficult, because I could not concentrate. This was most puzzling, because my desire to do well was genuine.

    We were married in 1986, and I was successful in graduating from pharmacy school, in 1988. I was overwhelmed by the stress and workload for a couple of years. I started taking narcotic pain pills and cough syrup, and was fired again and again. Though it was totally inappropriate, I felt outraged when that happened. This went on for a couple of years. I finally managed to stop, on my own, for a period of about 5 years. Eventually, I opened my own pharmacy, struggled financially for almost a year, and then once again succumbed to addiction.

    I should mention that I have a lovely wife, and three wonderful daughters. I’m as puzzled as anyone how I got to be so lucky in this part, such a big part, of my life.

    I eventually told my wife, mother and brothers about the drug use. I tried many, many times to stop. Over the next 2 years I think I went through withdrawal more than a hundred times. That might be a world record, I don’t know. I am not saying this to be amusing. It is the truth. I even went through a procedure called rapid-detox.

    The MD who performed this procedure did a psychological evaluation the day before the procedure. He asked me if I knew that I had PTSD. This was the first time I was diagnosed. I was 39 years old.

    Once back home, I relapsed within 3 months. Eventually my family had to intervene, and they reported me to the state board. I received a visitor from the state board on that very day. These were not people you would want to fool with. I was sent for psychological evaluation, and was once again told I had PTSD, and that I would have to go to a treatment center. These people were bone-dog serious. They were not in a bargaining mood, and they scared the crap out of me. I knew there were no other options. I could easily have been prosecuted and imprisoned. And I was also relieved.

    Once at the facility, I underwent lengthy and very extensive psychological testing. I was told I had PTSD, and in addition I seemed to have multiple diagnoses. I told them I already knew about the PTSD. I did ask what could be done for it. There was very little that could be done, if anything. But they could get me into a life of sobriety, and that would make my life better.

    I was also diagnosed as severely schizoid. Schizoid means “like schizophreniaâ€. Severe enough, that for all real purposes, my life was identical to a person with true schizophrenia.

    It was also determined that I seemed to suffer from an "exaggerated startle response". Brother, you could have said that in lights. I didn’t need a psychological evaluation to tell me that. I was slightly aware of this. Loud noises, people walking behind me, sudden events would trigger this, like the hair trigger of an atom bomb. The worst thing was a door opening. It did not matter if it was opened slowly or quietly. When a door opened I felt as though a high-voltage shock went down my spinal cord, and down to my toes. Instantly hands would come up in self-defense, and at that moment I would have been capable of striking out, although I never did. Strangely enough, I would have the same response if I consciously knew beforehand someone was about to come through a door. For example, if I saw a person approach a door, maybe seeing the person walking to the door, through an exterior window, I would know in advance a person was about to open that door. I would consciously brace myself. When that door opened, I would still completely jump out of my skin. I could not prevent this, even with the most determined effort.

    I was there for 4 months. I eventually lost my business I had worked so hard for. A friend, who is also a pharmacist, purchased the store, and actually paid me more than it was worth. My family’s intervention had saved my life. Family and friends all around me did everything possible to help. I went back to work as a hospital pharmacist, in a mental hospital, of all places. I worked there for six months. During this time I attended 12 step meetings every single day, saw a counselor who specialized in trauma recovery once, sometimes twice a week, and saw a psychiatrist once a month. However, I was not getting better, I was going downhill.

    The psychiatrist put me on lorazepam (Ativan) during a panic attack. With this, I relapsed. Long story short, I stole a full bottle of narcotic pain killers called Norco, and a full bottle of Valium, from the hospital. I was trying to taper myself off of lorazepam with the Valium. My wife found some of these Valium tablets on Valentines day, 2002. I was in a psychiatric hospital within a couple of hours. I had only one stipulation, and that I was not going to go through withdrawal. If that condition were met, I didn’t care what happened. While in the hospital, my wishes were respected, and the doctors put me on Librium, to prevent withdrawal, so I was perfectly content. I was there for 1 week, and then discharged, but was not given any prescriptions for take home medications. The next day, a Saturday, I started going through withdrawal. I called the hospital, and my regular psychiatrist, but neither cared a hoot, so I was left to fend for myself, and was told I would just have to go through withdrawal. Wrong answer there. That just was not an option. The Valium and Norco that I had taken from the pharmacy were still in the house, because I had hidden them in our attic. I took the Valium out of necessity, then I thought, why waste a perfectly good relapse. Then I took several of the Norco tablets.

    My wife came home from the store, took one look at me, and they put me in another mental hospital, this one located just down the street from the one that I worked at. I was there for 1 week. There, I was put on massive doses of Librium, to prevent withdrawal. I don’t remember much about either place, or that weekend for that matter. I remember telling my family goodbye. I vaguely remember informing the hospital administrator where I worked, exactly what I had done. I was lucky. She could have pressed charges, but she was actually more concerned about my well-being. My family arranged for another treatment center, which I complied with.

    This was a world class facility, which did have a program for people with PTSD. During the start of my treatment there, once again I went through extensive psychiatric testing. About a week after this was complete, I met with the head psychiatrist in his office. He told me "I have been here for than 30 years. Every person that comes through those doors always thinks that they are unique, somehow. It seems to be a characteristic of alcoholics and addicts. I haven’t seen one yet who was truly unique, UNTIL NOW. Buddy, you are uuunique". He also told me a couple things that were not so amusing, though they were accurate.

    "Throughout your life, you have been using a psychological defense mechanism we call compartmentalization. That means when something traumatic happened, you put it in the back of your mind, kind of like a little box. Well now you do not have any boxes left. You have used them all." I remember the words, used up, being mentioned. He also said, "You can’t take another hit in life. You will kill yourself." I also remember him telling me I was autistic in a way he had never seen and that under stress, my mind blacks out.

    I jumped in, and told him that I was aware of this, that my mind blacked out, and that I had told psychiatrists and counselors of this, in the past. But no one seemed to think much about it.

    The part about not taking another hit in life made perfect sense to me. I had already made a conscious decision prior to being there. Even today, I can remember the exact time and place I made this decision. It was when I first relapsed, and was first trying to taper myself off of the Ativan with the Valium. At first I tried to do it cold turkey, but I said to myself, no more. I wasn’t going to have any more bad days. Ever. Not one. No matter what it took, I would not endure any more bad days, or any suffering of ANY kind. No matter what it took, that was it. And I most certainly will never again endure 1 more minute of withdrawal. I had taken enough punishment for one life. This was my new motto, and I was very serious. That was the reason I stole a bottle of Valium, so that I would not go through drug withdrawal.

    I was still under the effects of Librium from the previous hospital. I remember telling this Dr. I was well aware I had PTSD, and when it came right down to it, there was nothing that could be done. So I told him to just keep me on Librium the rest of my life, and ya’ll leave me the hell alone.

    I was always amazed by the ability of psychiatrists and counselors to diagnose, and to give such an accurate description of a person.
    After four months of intensive treatment and hard work on their part, including EMDR, twice daily 1 hour sessions, usually with the head psychiatrist, four times daily small group sessions, once daily 12 step meetings, (twice daily on weekends), nightly 12 step work, I was sent home. I was sober, which is a wonderful thing, but there was nothing that could really be done for me, as far as PTSD was concerned. This was as far as modern treatment could go. I can assure you these people were the best. They had done their best, and I am aware they had worked very hard. I had worked hard. I trusted them implicitly, and I love them to this day.

    I was unemployed for the next 8 months, then got lucky, and secured a job in a call center, working as a clinical pharmacist. At first I almost didn’t make it there, but for the patience of a supervisor who had some knowledge of PTSD. It was during this time in my life, that I discovered, by accident, something about PTSD, something you will not believe. I will get to that shortly.

    What was it like being mentally ill, and having PTSD? It was a combination of depression, suffering and madness. I had known since fourth grade there was something wrong. None of the kids I knew back then peed in their pants at school, acted out constantly, and expressed a desire to die in art class. It was a miserable, and at times, tortured existence. It was totally frustrating, because I was powerless to change. I should emphasize the word powerless. I felt I had no friends outside of family. I hated myself. Nothing made sense. I could not stop my mind from re-living the past. Many events played over and over in my mind. One particular event, which had occurred while I was in the 5th grade, was the worst. I would estimate that I processed about 5% of the sights and sounds that went on around me. It is difficult to describe this, but the things that I did process, went in right but came out kind of skewed. The strongest, most determined effort to process things in the right, appropriate way, would be unsuccessful. To think rationally, or even to behave appropriately, was completely foreign. My mind was stuck in a war, which never ended. It seemed irreversible. Indeed the best minds in the world have said so.

    In adult life, I could barely function at work. I had been fired from many jobs, even during the days of doing manual labor. I simply could not concentrate. I had one college semester, where I received a straight “Fâ€. Once in college I had a panic attack that was so bad that I got completely disoriented (lost). I was standing right in front of the main building, the student center/book store. It was a place that I regularly walked by every day. But I did not recognize it. A red-headed Christian girl came to my rescue, I vaguely remember. But I do not recall exactly how she did it.

    Alcohol came to be a part of everyday life, and, eventually, addiction to painkillers with it. A couple of family interventions and treatment centers, a good 12 step program, and the love and support from family of origin, and my immediate family brought me into the world of sobriety, and kept me alive. It also brought me into a new world where I actually experienced a certain amount of peace. At that time in my life, it did nothing to change any of the symptoms I have described.

    Here is what finally happened. As I previously mentioned, in February 2003, I was able to secure a position working as a clinical pharmacist, in a call center. It was a relatively low stress, very straightforward job.

    In September or October 2003, while driving home from work, I heard a radio talk show guy describe the benefits of essential fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids. Not just for cholesterol. They were beneficial for people with schizophrenia. The talk show host was a fan of an MD, named David Horrobin, who had written a book entitled "The Madness of Adam and Eve." I found a copy of this and read various parts of it, where he describes the role of essential fatty acids. In pharmacy school, we studied this subject in biochemistry. I knew this information to be valid. Though I was not a true schizophrenic, I decided to start taking these, 2 every morning. I mention this because I do believe this was helpful.

    I am a hard working, determined person. I am also an active, person. I read a lot, enjoy outdoor sports, and love music. I also enjoy hunting, fishing, and outdoor sports. One Saturday morning during fall/winter 2003, I was watching OLN on TV. I do not remember the exact date of course. They went through a segment on a hunting show, which featured exhibition shooters of the past. One whose name was Ed McGivern, shot 2 pistols simultaneously, right and left handed, and he was literally the best exhibition shooter there ever was, or has been since, even to this day.

    There was something about the way he shot that interested me. I got on the internet and found he wrote a book called "Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting". I found a copy, and scanned through it until I found what I was looking for. He gave detailed instructions on page 75 of how he practiced both with his right hand and his left hand, until he could shoot equally well with either. Evidently it had taken him years to accomplish this.

    One hobby that I have is banjo picking. I have tried for maybe 20 years on and off to try to learn how to play the silly thing. I could pick you a tune or two, but there was something that was not right. You would think I would be able to play a whole lot better, after playing for 20 years. But my playing was fragmented, and choppy. However, I can be a very determined individual.

    I was curious if this ambidextrous approach could be applied to a music instrument. I suspected being ambidextrous with a pistol was what made Ed McGivern such an outstanding exhibition shooter.

    I thought about it some, and in late December 2003, I decided to give it a try. I had a spare banjo, but it was right handed. I held it left-handed, and realized it was not suitable. Held left handed, the short string was on the bottom, instead of on the top. I could not afford a new banjo, so I decided to alter this one. On a banjo, the top string is 5 frets shorter than the other four. I had to re-string it so that the normal top string was now the bottom string. Then I strung it upside down, capoed the neck at the 5th with a normal capo, and by using a teensy, tiny little nail tacked into the fingerboard, capoed the new top string at the10th fret, making it as a left-handed 5 string banjo, albeit in the key of C. Normally a banjo is tuned to a G chord.

    Now I had a left handed 5-string banjo. The first time I tried to play it, I held it left-handed, and it was as if I had never played one in my whole life. It seemed totally foreign… At first I had to refer to written music. It was like starting over. I had to go slow, very slow, and just took my time re-learning where my left and right fingers went. I was determined to see this through, even if it took until doomsday. I started carrying it in my truck to work every day. I get an hour for lunch, so I would lunch in my truck, and then try to practice about 30 minutes. Just to be sure I would not forget how to play right-handed, I continued to practice right handed every day, usually in the morning before work.

    Playing a stringed instrument is demanding, and is neurologically intense. I don’t know of any other readily available activity that has a comparable neurological intensity, as that of playing a stringed music instrument. You have to listen to the instrument itself while you are playing to make certain it is in tune, both with itself and with other musicians. You have to co-ordinate movements in rhythm. You also must move your arms, hands, and fingers, totally independent of one another and in three dimensions in which three-dimensional spatial relationships constantly change. In your mind, as you play, you hum a tune in your mind, while at the same time listening to make certain the song that you are playing actually sounds like a song.

    It was a challenge, but after a month or so, I could consciously, slowly, just barely play, without referring to written music. I remember being aware that I started feeling different, somehow, but I could not put my finger on it. After another month, I could play just a little bit better. I also felt different. I remember consciously being aware of that. At that time, I couldn’t exactly name it, but it seemed like a good thing. There was something else happening, I could feel it. There was something different, a feeling that there was something I was overlooking. Slowly something was occurring. But I did not make the connection at that time. I kept on with my regular life, my regular schedule. One night during mid March 2004, after roughly 3 months of doing this, it dawned on me I had not had a nightmare in a long time. It was on a Friday that March that I made the connection. The flashbacks had been slowly going away. My mind was clearing. No, no, it had been clearing. Now it felt clear. I wished I had been writing this down, somehow documenting this during the past 3 months, but I had not expected anything to come from this. Hell, I was worried playing left handed might make me forget how to play right-handed. I could never have imagined this would happen. I was elated, and also in disbelief, worrying that I might be having some kind of a new, undiscovered mental and emotional breakdown. But no, that was not it. Beyond any doubt I felt wonderful. I could take in the world around me and process it in a way that felt different, appropriate. I felt OK, for the very first time in my entire life. It was like being set free. In short, I was positive, 100 per cent positive, I was OK. Once again, I was free.

    Saturday morning when I woke up, I lied in bed for about 2 hours, wide awake. I could feel something happening. It was a different sensation, that you could call healing, re-integrating, what have you. I could feel my world coming together, for lack of a better term. I could consciously feel it happen. I have not been able to find any word in our English language that describes this. I finally got out of bed, found my wife in the garage, and explained that I didn’t have PTSD any longer, and I felt great. I could see the fear and skepticism in her face. It was completely understandable; our family had already been through difficult times. We had no stability, and the future looked bleak for our family. What I was saying had to seem absurd. During those times, my behaviors were at times bizarre. But I also knew that in a short period of time, she would be able to see for herself, by my life, and by my actions, that it was true.

    To be certain that I was OK, I voluntarily went through another round of psychological testing. I have a friend in a prominent position in this area refer me to the best place he knew of. It was expensive, and I paid for it out of pocket. This testing took place in April 2004, and lasted 4 weeks. The head psychologist, who had a Ph.D. from a prominent university, went over the results with me. The tests showed that there was not anything that was wrong, and she was confused as to why I was even there. I asked her specifically if the results indicated PTSD, and she specifically stated there were no symptoms of PTSD, or anything else, for that matter, indicated on the test. Then I explained the reason for all of this.

    I told her some of my life story. I told her where I had been, what I had been like, including previous diagnoses, and what I believed had happened. In all honesty, she was dumbfounded. We had a very nice visit; she was most personable, and professional. But at that time I had reservations about telling anyone exactly how this happened. I did not know if it was safe, and I specifically told her that. I explained that I would continue, and as soon as I felt that nothing bad could possibly happen, I would describe, in detail, what I did.

    For a time I was not certain if this was safe or not. I felt I had to keep doing this to be sure. On 3 different weekends, I did not do anything other than play left handed. Another weekend, I played all day Saturday and Sunday, alternating between playing right handed and left handed at 15 minute intervals. I was trying my best to make sure nothing bad would happen. Nothing terrible happened, so after 9 months I did explain this to the above mentioned psychologist. I have also informed people in the world of politics, counseling and psychiatry. However, I was reluctant to make this widespread, public knowledge, out of fear that it might prove harmful in some way.

    About 5 years prior to my first treatment center, my dad had turned to Christianity, and turned his life around. He put much effort into being a good man, and making amends for the past. I was very proud of him and, in time, we developed a good relationship.

    In November 2004, Dad passed away. He died of cancer. My stepmother and I were with him when he died. His last day alive, was spent in a drug-induced coma, but we talked to him. As he died, we held his hands, kissed him on the forehead, and told him he was a good man. Indeed, he was a good man. I do miss him. His actions earlier in life were those of a person who was mentally ill. I understand that. I should mention that he had in fact sought professional help numerous times.

    I believe that PTSD is curable. I believe this discovery could be applied into developing a program that would helpful to so many. However if it were to happen, it would have to be done by those who are professionals in this area. If you have read this far, you know that I do know a lot about being mentally ill and having PTSD, but primarily as a patient. It is like comparing a veterinarian with a rancher. They both know a lot about cattle and horses. Some of their knowledge overlaps. But they are not interchangeable.

    What comes next? I do not know. This seems to be safe; at least it has been for me. I do work in a healthcare profession. If I were pressed, I believe I could provide some basic answers regarding the biological basis for what has happened. I could also offer speculation and theory. However this is not my area of study. I am not going to cross professional boundaries. I have not tried to practice this on any other person. I am apprehensive about sharing this. I can also tell you that I do not know if this is safe or effective for every person.

    In summary there are four components to my recovery:
    1. Practicing a stringed musical instrument right and left handed
    2. I continue going to 12-step meetings
    3. Omega-3 (fish oil) capsules
    4. Get a good night sleep, then give yourself some time in the morning, to collect your thoughts.
    I feel it may be necessary to expand on the last sentence.

    When a person has been incapacitated with PTSD, and quite possibly other forms of mental illnesses, his or her life is dramatically altered. It has changed who you are as a person. Part of the recovery process lies in recognizing how this has impacted your life, and others. Where has it taken you? Who else has it had an impact on? You will ask yourself if you could have done things differently. You will recognize that your thinking has been skewed, and you will remember about a million times when you acted out inappropriately. You have stopped trusting people. You have lived as though you are constantly fighting a war. Now the war is over. You are no longer merely a survivor, but you are a person, free to be whatever you chose. You need to be able to take inventory and process this in some way. Collecting your thoughts is a way of putting this together. This process started approximately 3 months into the left-hand music, and lasted perhaps a year. I believe it started about the time after I first became aware that I was not reliving the past and experiencing nightmares.

    The minds capacity for healing seems to be endless. This healing does not feel like grief, shame, or depression. It feels like your world is coming together. It is calm and serene.

    I think you have to be knowledgeable and "grounded" in some type of value system, in order for this reintegration to happen. In my case that was the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I believe that a 12 step program would be beneficial to any person who would want to try what I did.

    In time, I have noted that the startle response has greatly diminished, almost to the point of being non-existent. In other words, you can open all the doors you want, you can make all the loud noises you want. I have had people walk up behind me. I have had sudden circumstances occur and sudden random noises happen, you name it. At worst, these things have very little effect, usually they do not faze me. This aspect, more than any other, is what leads me to believe that PTSD is "curable".

    I have now been doing this for two years, and nothing harmful, negative, or detrimental has happened to me in any way. In fact I feel that it has been most beneficial. Obviously I’m not the same person I once was. I can not begin to describe the joy, relief and gratitude, that I feel each day.

    It is estimated 1 in 6 people worldwide suffer from PTSD. There has been a treatment, EMDR, which has demonstrated some effectiveness. Oddly enough, it also seems to rely on [DLMURL="http://www.ptsdforum.org/thread241.html"]decreasing cerebral hemispherical dominance[/DLMURL], and in my opinion was a very important discovery, which deserves much study. I am not aware of any treatment that states it can achieve what I have experienced.

    My, but what a quandry. I have given so much thought to this. You see, I am just one person, a private citizen. I do not really know what the right thing to do is. I know that there are millions of trauma survivors, people whose lives are as dysfunctional, and powerless as mine once was. Shouldn’t they know of this? Or should I not tell people of this, for fear it might be harmful in some way. Would it be unethical? Would it be disrespectful of professional boundaries? I have struggled with this dilemma and thought of this every day. I have tried to research this topic, but there is very scarce information on the subject of ambidextrous banjo players with PTSD.

    If your life is as mine once was, and if you decide that you want to try this in one way or another, I do not know what to tell you. You will be venturing into unknown territory. If alcohol and /or drugs are part of the picture, you should start attending local AA meetings, Pronto! You would be well advised to tell your Counselor, your MD, your Psychiatrist, and family members what you are going to try. If you don’t have a Counselor, and a Dr, and a Psychiatrist, you should get to work finding these, immediately. There could be unforeseen risks. Don’t even think of doing this if you have a seizure disorder, or history of cerebral vascular accidents (stroke), without your Dr., your Psychiatrist, and your Counselor, knowing exactly what you are going to do. Please take note that in this paragraph I mentioned MD, Psychiatrist, AND Counselor three separate times, four if you count this last sentence. In the next paragraph I mention this two more times. That should be sufficient.

    If you have never played a guitar, banjo, mandolin, autoharp, violin, sitar, or whatever, I am not certain this will even work. If you have played any, or all, of these instruments, I still don’t know that it will work for you. And to be sure, I don’t know if this is safe. Who knows if this could trigger seizure activity, stroke, alter the effects of psychotropic medications, Lord knows what all. That is why I specifically mentioned seeing your Counselor, MD, and Psychiatrist. If you start to feel this is not going right, then S.T.O.P., and see your MD, Psychiatrist, and Counselor. (see above paragraph)

    Because of the vast numbers of people who suffer from PTSD, and multiple diagnoses with it, I have decided to tell my story. I believe with all of my heart I have experienced a breakthrough. I feel that others who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder should know that there is a person who recovered, and how it came about. That there is a person, who was not long for this world, someone who now has a life that he could not have dreamed of.

    I believe that Psychiatrists, and Counselors, all around the globe are developing a new understanding of mental illness. I believe that at the present we are better at diagnosing than we are at treating. It is my belief that in the next 10 years, there will be much progress made in treating mental and emotional disorders.

    I have witnessed that gifted, and caring people are doing the very best they can. I have seen professionals routinely work much more than forty hour weeks. I have seen them working nights and weekends. It takes a special person to do this. They should be applauded, and supported. My instinctive feeling is that patterns are emerging, that will enable the providers to put the pieces together. I hope that my experience might prove useful.

    I wish you well.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
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  3. piglet

    piglet Well-Known Member

    Wow. This is certainly worth an investigation - then anything that might help is worth a try, so long as it is approached with caution. I must say though that I do notice that I feel much better after an hour at the piano - strangely, my favourite two pieces of musci are both ones where the left hand takes some of the melody and the right hand accompanies. I have been trying to learn both pieces of music for years. Maybe when I can finally play them properly, I will be cured!

    One thing I must say about Mr Anonymous - he obviously found faith in himself and one helluva lot of determination and drive. I think it will be a while before I find that energy again. I know that I can achieve very well when I am feeling good - so much so that I surprise people. It also sparks up a bit of ambition, but I just lack the trust in people to make proper use of it.

    Maybe one day.....I'll just be a late starter!
  4. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    Just take note Piglet, it is pretty clearly stated it took them years also... PTSD is not managable quickly, as it takes time to train ourselves, our brains and out new PTSD habits to work the way they should, and not the PTSD way. You say "I'll just be a late starter" in a way where I feel your just beating yourself up. Even this person, suffered since early childhood, same as you, and didn't get it together until 40 odd years later, or so. Don't beat yourself up about it Piglet, nor give yourself negative thoughts. Our bodies have a way of letting us know when we can cope with the healing process fully. Your body is saying something too you, because you went looking for help to begin with, but most certainly, your body and mind will work together in unison more and more as they both accept the healing process from the life of trauma and dismay you have suffered personally. It isn't going to fix itself over night. Just like the above story, you have suffered from a child, not just a traumatic incident from war or the like, so you have some healing to achieve more so than some.

    Did you take note of the bold parts? I actually specifically highlighted those from questions and thoughts even you had asked, in regard to how to explain PTSD to those who don't understand. I thought those pertanent parts might help others give explanation to those who have no clue what PTSD does to us.
    Abstract and J_trustno1 like this.
  5. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    As mentioned in the above story, Omega-3 fatty acids are now also being highlighted by the AJP as a possible beneficial source within the treatment of depression. Whilst not necessarily about PTSD as a whole, we treat symptoms, not the diagnosis. This is certainly a possibility for those who suffer severe depression as part of their PTSD.

    Abstract likes this.
  6. sonrisa

    sonrisa Member

    That was a great article to read, to see how after having such a tough time, he's found such a great solution and recovery, and is happy.

    Used to play violin and piano, so can understand what he, and Piglet, refer to. Sure I heard/read that listening to Mozart balances the brain e.g. enables you to study better, due to the particular harmonies and resolvings in the music, how balanced it is. I'm sure the creative things have a lot more natural order in (doing) them, that gives the brain what it needs, and refreshes everything. Interesting to read about omega-e's too.

  7. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    To further develop this information, here is also a nice article related to this topic.

    Dominance Failure

    The rise of civilization is a story of increasing dominance of analytical, symbolic thought over more primitive modes of representation. Today's left brain dominance is especially interesting because it does not appear to be our natural state. Individuals raised outside of industrial societies, in aborginal cultures in North America or Australia, or socially isolated children, tend to develop right-brain dominance. For example, Genie, a terrible case of neglect and social isolation, did not acquire any language until adolescence (Curtiss, 1986) and she exhibits right brain dominance for most mental processes including her limited language skills -- this, in spite of strong right handedness. Cultural hemisphericity was investigated by Bogen and TenHouten 30 years ago, and although controversial, individuals raised in urban settings were generally found to possess greater analytical and poorer visuospatial abilities compared to peers raised in rural settings, including Native Americans. Historical evidence also suggests that our left brain dominance is recent, a few thousand years old at best (Jaynes, 1976). Early writing systems predate the transition to left-brain dominance and most adopted a right-to-left writing direction (e.g., Phoenician, Hebrew, pre-Ionian Greek), a convention that places the ends of words, where disambiguation occurs, into the left visual field/right hemisphere. This would be expected for a right-brain dominant reader.

    Global brain function may be characterized as two modes of ideation in competition. We start out life with probably something closer to no cerebral dominance or slight right-brain dominance but our modern-day cultures develop, or overdevelop, our left-brain faculties. Cerebral dominance, left brain dominance, is learned. Like any skill, it may be acquired well, poorly, or not at all. And it may be lost or reduced with injury or prolonged stress.

    Task hemisphericity, performing a task within a single hemisphere, is the foundation of behavioral neurology and cognitive neuroscience (Broca, 1861). Facial recognition, for instance, is performed in your right hemisphere (RH). Speech and metaphor, calculation and visualization, perception of phonemes and perception of emotions, all of these tasks are strongly lateralized. Left hemisphere structures mediate positive emotions such as mania and right brain mechanisms underlie most negative emotions (Davidson, 1998; Robinson & Downhill, 1998). Occasionally the two modes of processing are complementary, supplementary, but often the hemispheres act like feuding youngsters, ignoring the other, interfering with each other. In split brain patient research, it is not uncommon to obtain a response from a hemisphere poorly equipped for a task, even when the other hemisphere is an expert for such stimuli. The same is true for normal, intact individuals (e.g., Zaidel, 1998). So competition may be the rule inside the head as well out.

    Most of us rely on verbal communication and logical thinking to proceed through life and society. But the verbal, analytical dominance is learned, not intrinsic to our bicameral neural architecture. In fact right brain dominance may be our pre-linguistic state. In response to severe environmental and personal stressors, some may regress back to this balance, often with drastic behavioral consequences. Failure to lateralized critical language functions during development, both anatomically and functionally, may be the cause of schizophrenia (Crow, 1997; 2000). Leonhard and Brugger (1998) proposed that dominance failure, prominent during acute psychosis, underlies the emergence of paranormal and delusional beliefs. The right hemisphere's semantic network is coarse, less tightly focused around conventional meanings than the left's. When dominance shifts away from the left, unfocused, nonconventional thoughts and beliefs may predominate an individual's mentation. Such a mode of processing may spark creativity or it may lead to disturbed (clinically so) behaviors.

    Perhap worse than dominance failure is what I call "superdominance" -- extreme cerebral dominance. Hemispheric dominance must be tempered by robust function of the other hemisphere. If the nondominant mode of ideation is underdeveloped and excluded from contributing significantly to behavior, clinical syndromes may arise. Paranoia may reflect an unrestrained left brain dominance. A better example is Asperger's syndrome, which shares many clinical features with acquired right-hemisphere dysfunction and may be a developmental abnormality of the right hemisphere. Autism itself sometimes indicates superdominance (poor social communication and empathy) and sometimes dominance failure (poor language development). Savant skills, observed in one-tenth of all autistic individuals, may be an extreme example of superdominance.

    The hemisphere competition model has obvious implications to neurotherapy. Neurofeedback can be a powerful method for balancing hemispheric processing, integrating the two sides of the brain. It may be one of the few techniques that can redress dominance failure or superdominance without serious side effects. Merely periodically activating one hemisphere more than the other may be all that is needed to re-establish dominance or allocate attention to underused faculties. Unihemispheric activation may be therapeutic for certain clinical populations.

    In 1970 Eran Zaidel developed the z-lens, contact lenses that darkened half of the visual field, either the left or right sides. His research focused on split-brain patients and hemispheric specialization, and he did not investigate clinical applications of this device, but now others have. Schiffer (1997) placed masking tape over the left (LVF) or right visual fields (RVF) of safety glasses and he found that 42 of 70 patients reported more anxiety while wearing his glasses. Depressed patients reported more anxiety with LVF glasses (RVF-blocked/RH activating) and PTSD patients had more anxiety waering RVF glasses. Unihemispheric activation may also improve attention and functioning in other patient populations (e.g., autism, Portia Iverson, pers. communication). Unihemispheric activation should also be readily attained with photic stimulation by simply instructing the individual to look far to the right or far to the left (even with eyes closed), thereby restricting stimulation (primarily) to one visual field, one hemisphere. Neurofeedback training might also be enhanced for some populations by wearing z-glasses during part of a session.

    To increase unihemispheric activation, auditory stimulation should be reduced by plugging the contralateral ear. Unlike vision, our auditory system is not perfectly crossed, but the ipsilateral (same side) pathway is weaker so plugging the contralateral ear should diminish auditory contributions to the opposite hemisphere. So to activate the left hemisphere, block the LVF and plug the left ear. Given different widths between eyes, glasses may need to be adjusted for each individual. One easy way to adjust them is to look straight into a mirror and align the tape until half the pupil cannot be seen by the wearer.

    Who knows? The simplest methods sometimes yield surprising and powerful results.


    Of course, which hemisphere to activate (or deactivate) remains a question. Nearly all right-handed males (99%) represent language in the left hemisphere and non-verbal, visuospatial, and emotional functions in the right hemisphere (especially if they have no familial history of left-handedness), but left handers and women are often less lateralized, though most follow the same trend. One quick-and-dirty method to identify hemispheric specialization without a Wada test is to ask which face below is happier. If the individual chooses the left face (frown in LVF, smile in RVF), emotional processing is presumed to be located in the left hemisphere, and thus language in the RH. The more common response is to choose the right face, with a smile in the LVF. Good luck. Identifying functional asymmetries is a messy business.

  8. lrs

    lrs Well-Known Member

    It has been over a year now since I posted my story here. I think it has been 3 years, 3 months since that Saturday morning when I first told my wife I no longer have PTSD.
    I am still free from the symptoms of PTSD. In addition, I have not had a drink of alcohol, nor have I touched any legal or illegal narcotic substances for more than 5 years.
    My daily life is better than anything I ever thought I would have, and I would wish that everyone with PTSD have the same opportunity for a peacefull healthy life as I have been given.
  9. She Cat

    She Cat Policy Enforcement Banned Premium Member Sponsor $100+


    Congratulations on your journey to recovery. I am almost there. I have 1 or 2 small issues that I am still working on and will continue till there is an end. I too was a basket case. Dressing myself 10 yrs ago was major stress. I couldn't function PERIOD......Did the drugs, drinking, and out of control behavior most of my life. Thought this was "Normal" for a crazy person....

    I am so glad that I have learned, I am not crazy, and my life before........... is NO MORE!!!!!!!

    I am so glad for your recovery. Keep up the great work, and you truly are an inspiration to those of us still struggling with the beast.....

    Thank you for being so honest....

  10. hodge

    hodge I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    I think this is incredible. I've been pondering this all afternoon and evening. Maybe string instruments work for some. Maybe also some sporting equipment might do the same for others? Like playing tennis with the other arm, golf, baseball? Might it be any number of things that would spark us to use more of our brains to try to get the whole thing working better? I'm probably getting ahead of things, but this thread really gives me some hope and food for thought.
  11. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    This is why I say martial arts certainly helps a person with PTSD. Why? Because not only do you learn mental strength, you must learn to achieve excellence with both arms, both feet, both directions. I have done 15 years of various forms, and I truly believe it helps me tremendously with my management of PTSD daily.
  12. lrs

    lrs Well-Known Member

    Lately I have had an interest in martial arts, Lord knows I could use the exercise. I went to a judo school that's on the way home from work one evening. There were some gentleman grappling pretty hard on the mat. An instructor was working with the group, telling them what to do, which hold to go to next, etc. I was watching them a few minutes, and another instructor came over, sat down, and we visit a couple of minutes. Nice fella and all. But I noticed in the grappling they use their knees a lot as leverage in order to get someone into a hold.
    The instructor and I are visiting, and I asked him about that. He asked why I would mention that.
    Well have you ever been kneed in the balls, I asked?
    He told me "Oh, you get used to that".
    So I explained I didn't think judo was for me.
    There are other forms of martial arts, there have been some tv shows on discovery channel lately, one that looked interesting was brazilian jui-jitzu. The moves in this martial art form appeared to me as though it would really lend itself well to a person who was wanting to exercise and work with both sides of the body.
    Dr Roerich started an interesting thread several months ago about the subject of hemispherical lateralization. I believe it was called left side of the brain struggling to make sense of right brain, or something worded close it.
    If you do a google search, type in ptsd hemispherical lateralization, quite a bit of stuff pops up.
    Have a good day!
  13. lrs

    lrs Well-Known Member

    I think martial arts are good for another reason. If you can handle yourself in a tight spot, and you really, really know it, your anxiety level might not be on a chronic red alert status.:thumbs-up
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